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A fritter is a serving of deep fried batter or dough. A sweet fritter incorporates apple, banana, or other soft fruits and is frequently called a doughnut. A savory fritter mixes a variety of ingredients, often a regional specialty, typically a vegetable or protein. Its star ingredient is the most important consideration when making a fritter batter. Consistency of the batter, choice of ingredients, temperature of the frying oil, and the importance of mixing wet and dry ingredients separately are also important in the process of making fritter batter.
Both a dough and a batter are made of essentially the same ingredients. Raw dough, such as for baking into bread, is typically a semi-solid paste. Batter, such as for cooking into paper-thin crêpes, can be very liquid. For free form fritters, the consistency of the batter is always somewhere between these extremes.
No specialized appliances are required for making a fritter batter, but it should be prepared in two separate bowls — one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet. The principal dry ingredient is any starch, or combination of starches. Simple wheat flour is the most common. Coarse cornmeal, bread crumbs or even ground cooked peas can also be used. Salt, a pinch of sugar for savory fritters, and dry spices which flavor its main ingredient are added.
One of the often desired characteristics of a fritter is a somewhat soft, fluffy center. To achieve this texture, one typical dry ingredient for a fritter batter is a small amount of baking powder. It reacts with water to create small pockets of carbon dioxide. Beer and carbonated sodas are sometimes used instead.
The usual wet ingredients are milk and eggs. To create an even fluffier fritter, the egg whites can be vigorously whisked in its own separate bowl to a state called whipped soft peak and gently folded into the batter. The wet and dry ingredients are then combined, fully mixed or whisked. Measured additional milk or flour can be added to obtain the proper consistency — thick and smooth for most types of fritters, just enoughly so to hold everything together. A less liquid batter will cause less oil splatter when deep frying.
The star ingredient is mixed into the batter at the last step. Whatever this may be, it should be considered that it will not cook for the five or so minutes a fritter takes to completely deep fry. Raw meats should not be used; diced apple is best pre-cooked in brown sugar and dried fruits are best pre-softened in syrup or wine. The texture of this main ingredient should complement the texture of the fritter batter. A light, airy batter might be better for the chewiness of a sea conch fritter popular in the Caribbean islands, whereas a sweeter, denser batter might be better for juicy kernels of corn.
A desired spoonful of the finished batter is gently dropped into oil. For best results, the oil should be kept at a medium to high temperature. The oil can be deep enough to submerge the portion or halfway if pan frying. Fritters should be fried to a golden brown shell, and will taste best when drained of excess oil after frying.
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